PhD vs Professional Doctorate: Consider an Advanced Online Degree in Business

Earning an advanced, post graduate online degree in business can really open doors when it comes to progressing to the highest levels of business leadership. A virtual necessity for teaching in business and a great asset for leading a corporation or organization, the doctoral level degree can provide you with in-depth knowledge of the state of your field and impressive credentials - as well as the title of doctor!

When it comes to choosing to embark on your doctoral education, you, of course, have to choose where to earn your online degree in business and what to specialize in. But you also have to decide which degree to earn, a more traditional Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a more practical professional doctorate.

The Doctor of Philosophy vs. the Professional Doctorate

When most people think of a doctoral level degree their mind immediately goes to a Doctor of Philosophy, the traditional PhD degree. Often, if you want a doctoral level degree in business, this means you would earn a PhD in business or leadership. Of course, these are great programs, focusing exclusively on courses relevant to business practice and research, and culminating in your getting to add "Dr." before your name. Today, however, a somewhat new degree has hit the academic arena, that is the professional doctorate. With these online degrees life experience is as important as classroom learning.

The professional doctorate is very similar to the traditional PhD, with just a couple of minor differences. Just as with the PhD, the professional doctorate culminates in a doctorate degree and the designation "doctor." Both degrees require very similar coursework, helping you master various concepts of an online degree in business, including business planning, strategic management, leadership and more. The difference comes with a subtle focus and likely just a couple of courses.

The professional doctorate is considered more of a practitioner - scholar degree, with an emphasis on practical, real world knowledge. The PhD is more scholar - practitioner, with a bigger emphasis on research, particularly conducting research and becoming published in the field. Now, certainly the professional doctorate (which includes degrees such as the DBA, PsyD, and EdD) does provide research skills, but more from the aspect of being a consumer of research, with less emphasis on conducting original research.

Making the Choice

When embarking on an online degree in business, choosing between the PhD and professional doctorate is a personal choice. If you have aspirations to teach in the field of business, then you will definitely want to earn a PhD, as this is much more common in academic arenas. However, if you seek simply to work in business and application of skills is much more important to you than research skills, then a professional doctorate may be the best choice for your online degree in business.  See our article, "Understanding the Online Business Administration Degree: What is a DBA?" for more information on the Doctor of Business administration, a professional doctorate in business and leadership.

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